Facebook has invested $4.2 million to expand Northeastern University’s computer science master’s program that helps people from other fields get into tech.
The investment will also help to expand the program to other universities. The Align program focuses on women and minority representation in technology and helping people who don’t have computer science education or tech experience get into the field. Facebook’s investment will fund eight credit hours of coursework for 200 students.
Northeastern’s Align program began in 2013 and today there are 575 students enrolled across Northeastern’s locations in Seattle, Boston, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Charlotte. The program got off the ground with seed funding from Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates; and corporate partners, such as Dell Technologies, that funded scholarships for students.
As part of the investment, three other universities — Columbia University, Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — will use best practices from Northeastern to create “pathways” into their computer science master’s programs for people from non-tech backgrounds. Facebook and Northeastern want to build a consortium of at least 15 U.S. colleges and universities within four years that focuses on increasing diversity in computer science.
“The partnership with Facebook allows us to grow one pathway, scaling it not just here at Northeastern but also at other leading computer science schools that care passionately about diversity – of thought, race, gender, and background,” said Carla Brodley, dean of Northeastern’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences, in a statement.